April 10, 2014

Pothole Blitz in Effect

With winter officially at an end, County Executive Ike Leggett has directed the Department of Transportation (MCDOT) to do another intensive, two-week effort to fill the County’s potholes, devoting about 60 percent of its resources to filling potholes and replacing damaged road sections. A week-long blitz in March filled 2,600 potholes countywide.

MCDOT relies on resident reports of potholes, and repair crews also stop to fill any other potholes encountered as they make their rounds. Residents can report potholes online or by calling the MC311 Call Center at 311 or 240-777-0311, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Drivers are asked to be cautious and patient when encountering crews filling potholes.

MCDOT fills potholes on 5,000 lane miles of County-maintained roads. The Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA) fills potholes, plows snow and maintains numbered routes in the County, such as Maryland routes 355 or 97. MSHA can be reached at 301-513-7300. Municipalities, such as the cities of Rockville and Gaithersburg, handle their own repairs.

Study Ranks County Second in Nation in Life Expectancy

A new analysis of life expectancy at birth, plus rates of obesity and physical activity in all 3,143 counties or county-equivalents in the nation ranks Montgomery County second in life expectancy for males and females.

Males in the County have a life expectancy of  81.6 years of age – a 7.1 year jump between 1985 and 2010, while females live 84.9 years, an increase of 5.1 years over the last 15 years.

The study, conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, was the first-ever county-level analysis. See Montgomery County’s profile.

Sheriff’s Notice – Cell Phone Scam

According to Montgomery County Sheriff Darren M. Popkin, a phone scam currently going around the country has reached Montgomery County residents.

A caller, falsely claiming to be from the sheriff's office, says a warrant that has been issued for your arrest  will be served unless, of course, you pay up.

The scammer may get specific by giving his name and “official” rank. The caller might also request personal information so he can “clear your name” and cancel the mythical arrest warrant. Victims may be asked to go to a store, get a pre-paid credit card, load it up with money and call a phone number with the card information

Anyone who has received a scam phone call from someone claiming to be a Montgomery County (MD) Deputy Sheriff who is going to arrest you unless you immediately send money should call the Sheriff’s Office at 240-777-7000. Save any recorded messages, record the date and time of the phone call, the purported name of the caller, the call back number and their phone number as displayed on caller ID.

Get Your Hands Dirty, Keep Your Community Clean

The Volunteer Center is promoting environmentally focused projects during the entire month of April as a time for volunteers to get engaged in Earth Day.

Students are reminded that they can earn Student Service Learning (SSL) hours through the projects. The opportunities also include many volunteer projects that are ideal for groups or families who have the time, enthusiasm and desire to help the environment and their communities.

See a list of projects going on throughout the month, including some from the Department of Environmental Protection.

Council Radio Show for Local Latino Community Debuts on Radio America

The local Latino community can now receive key information on issues and programs thanks to the new partnership between the County Council and Radio America (WACA 1540 AM) that will provide a 30-minute show at 2 p.m. each Friday on the Washington Region’s most popular Spanish language station.

Entitled, “SintonĂ­a con el Concejo del Condado de Montgomery” (“Tuned In with the Montgomery County Council”), the show will include guests talking about important issues before the Council. Information will also be offered about County programs to help residents and businesses. Listeners can call in and express opinions and ask questions of guests.

The show debuted on April 4 with guests Councilmember Nancy Navarro and Daniel Parra of the Montgomery County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Listen to the first show.

“Montgomery Serves” Reception and Awards Ceremony

Good people will be honored for doing good for others at the annual “Montgomery Serves Awards” ceremony to be held Monday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Imagination Stage in Bethesda. The ceremony and reception are free, but reservations are required, as seating is limited.

The awards to be presented -- the 2014 Montgomery Serves Awards, the Neal Potter Path of Achievement Awards and the Roscoe R. Nix Distinguished Community Leadership Awards -- recognize extraordinary volunteerism and will be presented to nine honorees for their service to Montgomery County.

Get more information and/or register for the event. Questions may be directed to serviceawards@montgomerycountymd.gov or call the Volunteer Center at 240-777-2600.

Low-Income and Senior Homeowners can Apply for Property Tax Credit

Montgomery County homeowners who have a limited income or are at least 70 years of age may be eligible for property tax credits that will limit the amount of taxes they must pay.

One application will determine eligibility for three programs – the Maryland Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit Program; the Montgomery County Supplemental Property Tax Credit; and the Montgomery County Senior Property Tax Credit. The application deadline is September 1.

Property owners who have applied for a tax credit previously and been denied are encouraged to apply again, since the tax credit programs have changed and been improved over the years and income situations may have changed.

To apply for the tax credits, homeowners must fill out one application form each year. The forms are available by calling the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) at 1-800-944-7403 or by downloading the form and instructions from the SDAT website at http://www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/htc.html.

See more information in the news release.

County Executive’s Next Online Chat

County Executive Ike Leggett will respond to questions from residents during his next Online Chat to be held on Monday, April 28 from 1 to 2 p.m. Submit questions in advance or during the chat. See previous discussion transcripts. Questions and responses will be posted during the chat

April: National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

In recognition of April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, County police officers will focus attention on enforcing distracted driving-related violations.

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Violations include using a hand-held cell phone, texting, eating and drinking, grooming, reading and watching videos while driving.

County police officers observing the violations, as well as any other distracted driving activity, will issue citations to the driver.

Assistant Chief of Police on Next “Montgomery Mosaic” Radio Show

Assistant Police Chief Darryl McSwain will be the featured guest on the County’s next “Montgomery Mosaic” show on WOL-Radio 1450 AM. The show will air on April 16, from 10:30 to 11 a.m. McSwain will talk about crime prevention, the Police Department’s Citizens Academy and Explorers Program, as well as recruitment efforts in the department.

The monthly show extends the reach of the County’s cable show, “Mosaic: An African-American Perspective” to a broader audience. It features interviews with local elected officials and community leaders about topics of interest to the African American community.

The show is co-hosted by Deborah Milo, host of the “Mosaic” show on County Cable Montgomery and WOL-Radio’s Ron Thompson. “Montgomery Mosaic” is also streamed live on http://WOLDCnews.com, and archived shows can be found on http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/exec/media/Mosaic.html.

Be “Petpared” During Emergencies

To help pet owners prepare for their pets’ safety and well-being in the event of an emergency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is sponsoring a “2014 #Petpared Twitter Challenge” throughout April.

To participate, pet owners are encouraged to take a photo of themselves with their pet carrying out any one of half a dozen recommended actions that will help ensure their pets’ safety. Then tweet the picture by April 30 using the hashtag #Petpared.

Among the recommended actions that could be photographed are:
  • Hanging a tag on your front and back doors with your pet’s information so emergency responders will know immediately who is inside; 
  • Making a Pet Emergency Kit; and 
  • ID’ing your pet with a current license, identification tag, collar and possibly a micro-chip. 
Celebrity judges will re-tweet some of the successful actions on National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day, May 5. Pets also could be featured as a regional “spokespet” during May.

The 2014 #Petpared Twitter Challenge is supported locally by the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Montgomery County Animal Response Team and the Police Department’s Animal Services Division.

Get more details on FEMA’s program from the news release.

Learn more about emergency preparedness for pets.

Volunteers Sought to Work with Sexual Assault Victims

Volunteers are needed by the Victim Assistance and Sexual Assault Program (VASAP) of the Department of Health and Human Services to provide 24-hour crisis counseling and companion services at Montgomery County hospitals and police stations for victims of rape and sexual assault.

Interviews are being conducted for a May 2014 mandatory training session, which covers crisis intervention skills and the specialized knowledge of the emotional, medical and legal issues that victims face.

Volunteers must be at least 21 years of age, have a valid driver’s license and immediate access to transportation. They must serve for one year, in an on-call capacity, for one 12-hour shift or two six-hour shifts per week Bi-lingual volunteers are encouraged to apply.

For more information or to arrange an interview, call the Montgomery County Victim Assistance and Sexual Assault Program at 240-777-1355 or go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/vasap.

Census Bureau Positions Available in County

Positions are currently available in the local Census office as part of a national pilot project by the US Census Bureau for which Montgomery County and the District of Columbia have been selected.

Local Census Office Manager: $29.22/hour
Responsible for the assistant managers and all the local census office (LCO) activities.

Assistant Manager for Field Operations: $24.72
Responsible for the Non-Response Follow-up (field activities). He/she will make sure that staff is hired and trained, plus, will oversee all field production.

Assistant Manager for Administration: $21.47
Responsible for all payroll and personnel in the LCO.

Assistant Manager for Technology: $21.47
Responsible for the automation in the office and field.

Make the Right MOVE and Save Money

Through the County’s MOVE (Make Office Vacancies Extinct) program, eligible businesses can receive financial assistance to reduce rent costs for their first year. The assistance available is $4 per square foot for a company’s first lease of Class A or Class B office space in Montgomery County.

MOVE is part of the Economic Development Fund and is designed to attract cybersecurity, green technology, IT and life science businesses to the County.

Learn more about MOVE and how to apply.

See articles in BethesdaNow.com and the Washington Business Journal.

Neighborhood Beautification Grants Available

The Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) Keep Montgomery County Beautiful (KMCB) Task Force is reviewing grant applications through June to fund beautification projects that help improve the appearance of communities.

The grants pay 50 percent of the total cost, up to $500, on a competitive basis to any non-profit community association. Grants must be used for new projects that improve community aesthetics or serve to protect the environment. Construction and general maintenance projects or those that have already been completed do not qualify.

For details on the program, how to apply for a beautification grant, or join the Task Force, contact MCDOT’s Community Outreach Program at 240-777-7155, email mcdot.outreach@montgomerycountymd.gov or visit their website.

General Services’ New Website

The Department of General Services has launched its new website www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dgs/home.html.

The site provides easier access to critical and interesting information for residents, businesses and other County departments and agencies.

Key features include:
  • A user-friendly list of all services the department provides, including direct links to popular pages such as how to register a business with the County and report a problem with a County facility; 
  • A direct link to the award-winning Neighborhood Projects page with details about County building construction projects; 
  • Registration and other important information for businesses interested in contracting with the County; and 
  • A list of current events of public interest, including procurement-related notices, project updates, public meetings and business outreach events. 
See more in the news release.

International Recognition for Rockville-based Company’s Malaria Vaccine

Rockville-based Sanaria Inc. received the 2014 Vaccine Industry Excellence Award for the “Best Prophylactic Vaccine” at a ceremony held in Washington, DC during the 14th World Vaccine Congress in late March.

The company’s mission, according to its website, is to develop and commercialize whole-parasite malaria vaccines that confer high-level, long-lasting protection against malaria.

Learn more about Sanaria and the award.

County Has Highest Waste Diversion Rate in State for Second Consecutive Year

For the calendar year 2012, Montgomery County again led all other jurisdictions in the state in waste diversion with a rate of just under 60 percent, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). The waste diversion rate primarily reflects recycling efforts but also credits waste reduction efforts.

Under the Maryland Recycling Act, all counties and Baltimore City are required to recycle 15 or 20 percent of their municipal solid waste, depending on population, and report annually to the state. Results are tabulated and published by MDE. Figures for calendar year 2013 will be published in early 2015.

More information in news release.

Department of Environmental Protection Earns Engineering Excellence Award for Stormwater Management Project

The Department of Environmental Protection has received the 2014 Engineering Excellence Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies for its project to capture pollutants and reduce stormwater runoff from more than 200 acres in the Bethesda Central Business District.

The project was completed in cooperation with the National Institutes of Health and is located on their campus.

Stormwater management improvements in Stoney Creek also are improving water quality and habitat conditions downstream in Lower Rock Creek.

More details in news release.

County Featured in Articles on the Role of Chief Innovation Officers

Cities, counties and states around the country are creating Chief Innovation Officer positions and, in so doing, are finding better ways to use technology. The County’s CIO, Dan Hoffman, was hired in 2012. Since then, the number of CIOs serving jurisdictions around the country has increased.

A recent article in Government Technology entitled “Who’s Making Innovation Official?” features an interactive map of those locations that have added CIOs, and mentions Montgomery County, which was also part of an 2012 article on the emerging roles of CIOs, “Will the Chief Innovation Officer Transform Government?” .

Judicial Center Project Receives Building Council Award

The new addition to the County’s Judicial Center, a Department of General Services (DGS) project, has received the Washington Building Council’s (WBC) 2014 Craftsmanship Award for the courtroom millwork

It was one of eight projects nominated for the WBC’s Star Award which recognizes projects that deserve special recognition for demonstrating the highest level of quality in visual and technical excellence and excellence in the face of adversity.

“The standout millwork performed by Beaubois [the millwork contractor] represents the attention to detail and quality of construction that characterizes this project,” said DGS Director David Dise.

The Judicial Center is expected to open in May.

See more information about the project.

Resource Recovery Facility Receives US EPA Clean Air Technology Award

The County’s Resource Recovery Facility (RRF) in Dickerson has received the prestigious 2014 EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Clean Air Technology Award for upgrading its emission control system to an LN™ (Low NOx) system that lowers emissions of nitrogen oxides.

The LN™ technology has proven its ability to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by approximately 50 percent, or 400-500 tons per-year, from pre-installation levels. This is equal to the removal of roughly 50,000 passenger cars from the road -- a significant achievement for both the local environment and regional air quality.

The Resource Recovery Facility is owned by the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority and is operated for the exclusive benefit of Montgomery County by system designer Covanta Montgomery, Inc.

See release for more details.

Thursday, April 24 -- Service Academy Forum presented by Congressman Chris Van Hollen.

Executive Office Building (Auditorium), 101 Monroe St., Rockville. 7 - 8:30 p.m.; panel discussion begins at 7:15 p.m. Representatives from all five service academies talk about their institutions and the admission requirements. For interested students in grades 9, 10 and 11 and their parents. For directions or parking information, call 301-424-3501. For special accommodations, such as a sign language interpreter, call two weeks prior to the event.

Sunday, May 18 -- The Premier Senior Talent Showcase.

Celebrating the Creativity of Older Adults 55+. Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda. (Two blocks north of East-West Highway and 1½ blocks from the Red Line’s Bethesda Metro Station.) Free parking in the Cheltenham Garage, behind the theatre at 4720 Cheltenham Dr. 1 to 4 p.m. General admission, $5. Offered in observance of Older Americans Month celebrating contributions they have made, and are making, to the nation and their communities. Presented by the Montgomery County Recreation Department Senior Adults Program, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, Inspired Event Productions and Haba Entertainment Group. More information at